Germany’s Scholz says ‘consensus’ with Zelensky that Western arms do not hit Russia

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky agrees that weapons supplied by the West will not be used to attack Russian territory, Germany's leader said in an interview Sunday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks next to a Leopard 2 battle tank of the German armed forces as he visited troops during a training exercise in northern Germany
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks next to a Leopard 2 battle tank of the German armed forces as he visited troops during a training exercise in northern Germany in October 2022. Photo: Ronny Hartmann / AFP

“There is a consensus on this point,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with the weekly Bild am Sonntag.

Ukraine’s Western allies have pledged to arm it with precision rockets and missile systems, as well as tanks, as it tries to push back Russian troops in its east.

READ ALSO: Germany authorises manufacturers to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared the intervention of countries such as Germany with his nation’s struggle during World War II.

“Again and again we are forced to repel the aggression of the collective West,” he said Thursday on the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad.

But Scholz rejected the comparison.

“His words are part of a series of absurd historical comparisons that he uses to justify his attack on Ukraine”, he said.

“But nothing justifies this war.

“Together with our allies, we are supplying battle tanks to Ukraine so that it can defend itself. We have carefully weighed each delivery of weapons, in close coordination with our allies, starting with America.”

He said that such a consensus-based approach “avoids an escalation”.

READ ALSO: Germany won’t send fighter jets to Ukraine, says Scholz

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Germany says reforms ‘essential’ for Georgia’s EU membership

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Friday said Georgia must conduct reforms amid increasing concern over the Caucasus country's democratic record.

Germany says reforms 'essential' for Georgia's EU membership

Speaking in Tbilisi alongside her Georgian counterpart Ilia Darchiashvili, she said Germany was ready to help.

“I am in Georgia with a specific message: we want to see Georgia in the European Union,” she said in German, which was then translated into Georgian.

She stressed, however, that it was “essential that this country implements reforms so that Georgia can join the EU.”

“We will be supporting you along this path,” she added. “The door is open wide for Georgia to get EU candidate status.”

Last year, the EU deferred Tbilisi’s membership application — while granting candidacy to Ukraine and Moldova — saying Tbilisi must conduct reforms before it is put on a formal membership path.

READ ALSO: German Chancellor Scholz backs EU membership for Ukraine

This month, mass anti-government demonstrations shook Tbilisi as protesters accused the government of deviating from the country’s pro Western course.

Ahead of her arrival in Georgia, Baerbock said in a statement that “there can be no shortcuts and no concessions” over Tbilisi’s compliance with democratic standards.

She said she was “impressed” by the recent pro-EU rallies in Tbilisi, “where women and men were waving European flags.”

The youth-led protests erupted after parliament gave its initial backing to a bill on “foreign agents” similar to Russian legislation used to suppress dissent.

The legislation was dropped under pressure from the protests that saw police use tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds. 

The bill sparked strong international condemnation, adding to the mounting criticism from rights groups and Western capitals over Georgia’s democratic practices over the last year.

The move to EU membership is enshrined in Georgia’s constitution and supported by at least 80 percent of the country’s population, according to opinion polls.